Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Allentown Public Library request for annual funding increase refused

Tuesday, July 25, 2017 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Local News

The Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners is refusing to pay a funding increase request from the Allentown Public Library.

Commissioners agreed the township would continue to provide its annual funding of $81,559 to the library. Payment allows township residents to use library services. The library has been including township parks in its summer outreach program.

“You have the consensus of the board to pay what we pay now,” board of commissioners President James A Brown said to Salisbury Township Manager Cathy Bonaskiewich during the July 13 workshop portion of the township meeting which included “Allentown Public Library Funding Request” on the agenda.

After the July 13 meeting, Bonaskiewich told a reporter for The Press that Allentown Public Library officials are requesting an annual payment of $95,000 from Salisbury Township. She said the library, which operates on a fiscal year, typically ending June 30, made the first request for an increase in fall 2016.

During the workshop discussion, per capita payments by Salisbury, compared to the City of Allentown, were cited. The township per capita payment was said to be $6. Comparisons were also made to the City of Easton, the Hellertown Borough and Lower Saucon Township.

“Everybody else is higher than that, but so what?” said township Commissioner Debra Brinton.

“I think their [Allentown Public Library officials] point is that Allentown pays per capita,” said Salisbury Township Solicitor, Atty. John W. Ashley.

During the workshop, Bonaskiewich told commissioners, “They’re [Allentown Public Library officials] asking for the higher amount, plus the amount we didn’t pay last fall.”

Asked Brinton, “Why are they [Allentown Public Library officials] continuing to try to change the billing?”

“Wait a minute. All of a sudden, these bills are coming in. They want an exorbitant amount of money,” said Commissioner Joanne Ackerman.

A 2013 ballot question confirmed that township residents agreed to the annual Allentown Public Library funding, which is subsidized by a tax percentage.

The Allentown Public Library millage in Salisbury Township is 0.06087, which means residents pay a little over 6 cents per $1,000 of assessed value of their property, Bonaskiewich stated in an email response to The Press.

This was the specific amount that was on the 2013 ballot question, Bonaskiewich stated.

The Allentown Public Library funding was also approved by township residents about 20 years ago, again by ballot.

According to the Salisbury Township web site:

Residents of Salisbury Township can obtain Allentown Public Library cards with valid identification at no cost. There are multiple children’s services offered, including programs for preschoolers to teenagers as well as a Summer Reading Club. Adult services include book clubs and cultural events.

Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton public libraries have a collaborative collection sharing, the Lehigh Valley Library System, allowing residents access to many more items to borrow and timely delivery of those items to the home library.

The Allentown Public library provides a dedicated high-speed link to the Internet, hardware and software for public use, a wireless network for patron use, and printers for public use.

Computers are free to use with a library card. Free wireless Internet is provided patrons who bring a laptop to the library.

The Alllentown Public Library South Mountain Branch along Emmaus Avenue has been closed for many years. It was considered more accessible to Salisbury Township residents.